Six month registration period for reservoirs opens 1 April 2015

date04 March 2015

During 2016, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will become responsible for regulating reservoir safety in Scotland. To ensure all relevant reservoir operators are fully registered with SEPA ahead of the change, a free six month registration period will open on 1 April, 2015.

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Under current legislation, local authorities are the lead for regulating reservoir safety, however following the introduction of the Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011, the responsibility will transfer to SEPA during 2016.

Ensuring that reservoirs are correctly managed and maintained is essential to the Scottish economy as they provide drinking water, power and important social amenities. The 2011 Act aims to bring regulation of all existing reservoirs over 25,000 m3 capacity under a single enforcement authority for Scotland, whilst providing a more proportionate inspection regime.

Les Watson, Flood Risk Manager, from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said:

Proper management of our reservoirs is of the upmost importance and the change in regulations will help to streamline the current regulatory process by providing a consistency to the way in which each reservoir is assessed and managed. Registration is a crucial step in the process and we have been working closely with managers within the industry, alongside our counterparts in each local authority to ensure that the transition takes place as smoothly as possible."

The legislation will introduce a new risk based approach to inspections, with each reservoir designated as high, medium or low risk, dependent on the consequences of an uncontrolled release of water. The frequency of inspections will therefore focus more on the compliance of higher risk reservoirs, while ensuring all sites are properly maintained and secure.

To support reservoir managers in completing the registration process, SEPA will be contacting existing operators with pre-populated, hard copy registration forms, which should be completed and returned as soon as possible, within the six month registration period.

It remains the responsibility of operators to register their reservoir(s) with SEPA during the registration period. Failure to do so could result in charges for registration and potential enforcement action.

For further information about the 2011 Act and its implementation, visit or contact


Notes to editors

The 2011 Act is being implemented through a phased approach and will introduce a number of key changes and benefits to the reservoir industry:

  • SEPA will become the national enforcement and regulatory body in Scotland, providing greater consistency for the industry.
  • Risk designations based on the consequences of an uncontrolled release of water will be assigned to each reservoir.
  • Different levels of statutory monitoring and inspection by engineers based on the risk designation, with low risk sites having less regulation than higher risk sites.
  • A public register will be held which will include a reservoir inundation map for each registered reservoir showing the area of land likely to be flooded in the event of an uncontrolled release of water.
  • When the 2011 Act is fully implemented, the threshold for registration will reduce from 25,000 cubic metres to just 10,000 cubic metres capacity, bringing smaller reservoirs under regulation and providing a more comprehensive regulatory regime.
  • The Reservoir Manager or owner, referred to as the Undertaker in the 1975 Act, has a wider definition in the 2011 Act to include those that lease or use the water.